The biochemical degradation of contaminants is enabled by enzymes in the activated sludge: the biocatalysts. Biocatalysts are neither altered nor consumed in the biochemical reaction. The individual substrates in the wastewater and the different metabolic steps require different special enzymes.

Easily degradable substances show sufficient concentrations of the respective special enzymes in the activated sludge. In the case of substances that are not degradable or only partially or incompletely degradable, either a special enzyme is lacking or is not present in sufficient concentration.

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